Malaysia parliament report calls for probe into 1MDB's ex-CEO
KUALA LUMPUR A Malaysian parliamentary inquiry into 1Malaysia Development Bhd(1MDB) said the board of the troubled state fund had failed to carry out its responsibilities and its former chief must be further investigated.
The bipartisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which tabled the much delayed report in parliament, said it found the financing and performance of 1MDB “unsatisfactory”.
It called for the advisory board of the fund – chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak – to be abolished and any reference to the prime minister be changed to finance minister in the company’s memorandum and articles of association.
This is one of the final reports on investigations into alleged mismanagement at 1MDB, and a financial scandal surrounding Najib.
The PAC said former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi has to take responsibility.
“As such, enforcement agencies are asked to investigate Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and anyone else related,” according to a summary of the report. The full report was not immediately available to Reuters.
OVERSEAS BANK STATEMENTS
Shortly after it was released, opposition leader Tony Pua, who was part of the PAC, told a news conference the report vindicates critics of 1MDB. It “confirms gross mismanagement and wanton neglect of all principles of good governance and accountability” at the fund, he said.
“I think at the very least (Najib) should be held ministerially culpable. Anything else we don’t know, as we don’t have the overseas bank statements of 1MDB,” said Pua, an MP with the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
Najib was not named directly in the report.
Pua lamented the failure to get crucial information on 1MDB’s foreign banking transactions, which are the subject of money-laundering and fraud investigations in the United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore. The 1MDB fund has denied those allegations.
Concern over 1MDB began after its debt rose from 5 billion ringgit in 2009 to 42 billion ringgit ($10.77 billion) by 2014, the report said. The fund sold its land and power assets last year as part of a restructuring plan to pare down its debt pile.
The PAC began its probe into 1MDB last May. The committee’s work stalled in July when PAC chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed stepped down after being appointed deputy home minister.
Pua said “many other shocking misdeeds and transgressions” were disclosed in the report which would provide “sufficient damning evidence to indict not only the entire top management, but also the entire Board of Directors”.
An interim report by the auditor-general last year found nothing suspicious after vetting the fund’s accounts. Malaysia’s attorney-general rejected a call by the central bank to initiate criminal proceedings against 1MDB.
The Wall street journal, citing documents from international probes, reported that investigators believe nearly $1 billion moved through state agencies, banks and companies linked to 1MDB before eventually finding its way into Najib’s personal accounts.
The 1MDB fund has denied that any of its funds went to the prime minister. The Attorney-General cleared Najib in January of any corruption or criminal offences, saying the $681 million was a gift from a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and that most of it was returned.
The scandal has rocked Najib’s government as public outrage over the alleged mismanagement and corruption grows. The scandal has fueled a sense of crisis in a country under economic strain from slumping oil prices and a prolonged slide in its currency last year.
Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said he never took any money for personal gain.
(Reporting Rozanna Latif, writing by Praveen Menon.; Editing by Bill Tarrant)